Chinese-Canadian educator honored

Zhuan Ti

On June 19 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Sherman Jen was honored by Royal Roads University with an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws.

Jen is the founder and president of Maple Leaf Educational Systems and Maple Leaf International Schools, which are now located in eight cities throughout China.

He has long been recognized in China as an educational leader in the field of private international education and as a visionary leader who introduced the Canadian high school curriculum into his school in China through a certification agreement with the Ministry of Education of the Province of British Columbia.

It was the experience his young daughters had in their schools in Vancouver, where Jen and his family arrived as new immigrants in 1993, that first inspired him to bring this model of education back to China.

As Jen explains, "My daughters' learning was so profound and so different from everything I knew of education in China at that time. On the surface it looked very simple, and yet it was clear that they were being challenged to engage in their learning, to question and express their own opinions, to be very actively involved.

"I believed that this style of educating children was very important in preparing them for the future, and I realized that children in China needed the opportunity to experience this style of learning. It became my goal to introduce this model of education to China."

The model of education that Jen introduced and is still practiced in all Maple Leaf International Schools today blends the elements of Western educational practice with the strengths and cultural richness of the Chinese educational system.

The Maple Leaf Model aligns Maple Leaf International high school outcomes with foreign college and university admission requirements, preparing graduates for admission to Western colleges and universities, including many of the world's top universities. Since 1995, Maple Leaf Educational Systems has offered a strong university preparatory education to academically motivated students.

Jen's educational philosophy of blending the strengths of both Chinese and Western education has been at the heart of Maple Leaf International Schools since 1995.

He has created an educational system that integrates the delivery of a curriculum that meets the graduation requirements of Chinese and Canadian high schools.

This model, referred to as the Maple Leaf Model, is designed to build students' proficiency in Chinese and English languages while developing their ability to think from the perspective of both cultures over their three years of high school.

This model equips students of Maple Leaf schools with the academic abilities and skills required for successful admission to colleges and universities worldwide.

The Maple Leaf Model combines three elements: Chinese and Canadian curriculum, bilingual instruction in Chinese and English, and students register the provincial education systems of China and Canada.

This model provides students with two diplomas and one very significant outcome -globally recognized credentials accepted for direct admission into foreign universities.

Jen's success in bringing Eastern and Western educational resources together has cemented his reputation as a leader in the nation's private education industry.

Since its establishment in 1995 and the first graduating class in 1999, many thousands of students have graduated from Maple Leaf International Schools and gone on to very successful post-secondary studies at leading universities and colleges in Canada, the USA, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Many Maple Leaf graduates have gone on to complete graduate degrees at the world's most prestigious universities.

Jen has stated his belief that to be successful in business or in education, you must start with a strong goal and a clear vision. His vision from the beginning was to open a school that would be recognized worldwide, where students could learn in a unique environment that offers an international academic perspective while maintaining strong national traditions and culture.

The Maple Leaf Model has proven very successful, both as an educational system and in changing the lives of many individual students.

However, this success has not always come easily, and in the beginning, there were many pressures that resulted in small enrollment and financial challenges.

The true objectives of the Maple Leaf Model were questioned, and parents often expressed doubt that the school could meet its promise of providing access to Western universities.

The early times were very difficult and required a very significant personal investment and hands-on involvement. To realize his vision, Jen needed to be very involved at all levels every day.

Through careful attention to the development of internal administrative structures, especially during times of significant growth, Maple Leaf has been able to maintain its educational integrity while emerging as a quality global brand in international education.

In his concluding remarks at the convocation address, Jen reflected on the many challenges and rewards involved in establishing and running a private international school system.

"In my 18 years of commitment to Maple Leaf education I have come to the conclusion that once you have determined your goal, you should never give up," he said.

"With hard work, you must strive to achieve that goal, facing problems directly and not avoiding them. By being committed to finding solutions, anything is possible - and you will be successful.

"My journey so far has been rich and rewarding. I chose education as my ultimate destination, and this is a choice I do not regret."

Jen expressed his special gratitude for this honor from Royal Roads University. He recognized the university as an institution that has built its reputation on innovative and creative educational practices. It has faced challenges along the way and yet stands today as a solid model of quality and progressive education.

"I feel a great connection to Royal Roads University through what I think is a shared approach to education, business, risk, innovation, and to constantly looking for new approaches, all to benefit individual students and to create connections between all people."